Empathy Rocks

Empathy Rocks

“…..only the soul that ventilates the world with tenderness, has a chance of changing the world.”
Father Gregory Boyle. Homeboy Industries, Inc.

“What did I do to deserve such hardships?” Georgia was upset due to the recent events in her life. “I grew up all by myself. No one ever dropped by to check if I’m fine. Neither did I complain about it. Yet, I got victimized by some selfish elements. Just ‘cause I’m weak, they think they have the liberty to harass and torture me. I tried, but I can’t put up this fight anymore.”

“Please calm down! One day, everything will be fine. You’ll be back to your old self again.” Elon empathized with her situation. 

“You know what, I hate to hear this same old thing. It’s been long, but nothing changed for me. All my efforts went in vain. How do I hold my hopes high now? You must be kidding me.” Georgia’s tint turned amber under the twilight sky. “Don’t bore me with your lectures, old chêne.”  

Elon didn’t pursue the discussion. She’s not in the mood right now. Anything I say will work against me. Things might get worse that way. Going forth, I need to be extra careful. I’m sure she’ll regain her strength, someday.

*******

Elon remembered the moment when he first laid eyes on Georgia. Her purplish crown was shimmering in the sun. The strips of her lavender outfit were fluttering in the breeze. She looked pretty even in her dullest state. 

Georgia arrived on a bright autumn afternoon. She was weary and probably teary ‘cause Elon noticed moisture on her chaffy bract. He never dared to ask though. She flew in and took refuge under his umbrage. Exhausted by the travel, she stayed put until the following daybreak. It was Elon who initiated the conversation. 

“Feeling better now?” Elon tried to make his presence felt. “You seem to be quite tired.” 

“Oh, I didn’t realise I had company.” Conscious of a strangers presence, Georgia tried to straighten the curled tips of her attire.  

“It’s alright. Hope I’m not disturbing you.” Elon tried to be polite. The familiarization session went on for a day. She opened up a bit, but he noticed that she was twitchy all the while.

“Strange, isn’t it? Yesterday I was somewhere else. We didn’t know each other. And here I am today, pouring my grief to you. Life wasn’t easy there. Yet, with a few of my peers around, I managed to stay alive. Now I’m not sure if I can endure this pain for long.” Georgia sounded sad. 

“Hey, I thought you grew up in a safe haven, with enough warmth and care. That’s how they foster the relict species, isn’t it?” Elon rustled at the thought of ‘relict species.’ He disapproved of the idea that only ‘certain species’ were entitled to ‘special care.’ He despised the discrimination. For, he believed that everyone was special in their own way, and deserved equal treatment.

“Maybe. But I grew up amongst a sturdy bunch of bullies. I had my base in an open area, adjacent to the railroad. It’s a bit far from here. I lived on healthy nutrition and basked under the bright sunbeams. Things were fine during my budding years, but soon the bullies overshadowed me. Thus began my struggle for existence; the battle for resources essential for living.”  Georgia’s hues dulled for a moment. 

“I see. Since your area is off-road, it got overlooked. And the bullies got the chance to take over. Didn’t anyone visit your cluster ever?”  Elon was curious to know every detail. 

Georgia continued, “Nope. At least not since I germinated. There were a few passersby’s but none came to check us. I lived under vulnerable conditions. With dangers lurking around, my future was uncertain. It wasn’t easy to dodge the blows bestowed by neighbours and nature. Yet I kept trying ‘cause I didn’t want to disrespect the gift of life.”

Elon sneaked a glance at her. She’s a pretty young floret, I must admit. What a pity that she got deprived of the pleasures she’s entitled to! I can’t let her shrivel and fade. She needs to thrive and expand her genus.

A strong breeze broke his reverie. He crunched his tillows, “Right! We must respect this life and never give up.”

“Yes, but the fight for survival drained my ardour. I lost hope after I got ousted from my land. It was where I grew up, amongst my own. Until that doomsday when we got scattered, and my vital tissues got damaged too.” 

Georgia’s head drooped low as if it was going to fall off, like a blossom drop. 

“Hey, don’t be sad. Trust me! Everything will be fine one day. Just don’t lose hope.” Elon tried to cheer her.

********

Georgia and Elon had no idea about each other’s existence until the destined day. The day, when Georgia flew into his life, like a spring in a desert. It might have been a part of god’s plan. But years later, both thanked the universe that conspired to connect them. Elon was the messiah who led her towards the light. He helped her to accomplish her goal. And Georgia expressed her respect by trusting and following his advice diligently. 

Elon lived in a quiet and peaceful area on the outskirts of a hamlet. Over the years, the seasons’ atrocities and blessings taught him lessons important. And with each season, he became a bit wiser. He has braved the storms of life and was living his elderly days. Though he never moved out of his root, he came across many of his kind who was lost and confused. He wanted to help them but was sceptical about their reactions. And then it all started one fine morning.

Dawn was yet to break when Elon noticed a juvenile bud lying under his shade. Upon asking, he informed that he detached himself from his cola, and was in search of a new home. He looked weary and withered. At first, Elon hesitated to enquire further. But seeing the bud’s condition, he decided to probe into the matter. Thus began his journey towards guiding the lost souls. His efforts paid off when they left his abode, blooming brighter than ever. 

Over the years, he mentored many young and withering, but Georgia was a real challenge. She was naïve and charming but lacked the radiance of youth. A battered soul, beaten by life’s adversities-that’s what she was. But there was a dimming glow within her core. Elon wanted to utilize that single glint to light up her life. 

*******

The strong breeze was roaring like a madman, causing havoc to the entire vicinity. Dust and dirt were enacting the dance of fury.

“Stop trembling! Be brave! Just stay focused and try to land on my lobes. You’ll be fine then.” Elon tried to encourage her. 

Georgia was too frail to resist the blows. The wind was playing games with her. It raised her, kept her floating in midair, and then dropped her back to Elon’s bower. After a tiresome struggle, she managed to sneak inside his spreading canopies. “See… These elements keep coming back to wreck my state. I’m getting weaker and weaker with each blow.”

“It’s alright! These kind of incidents are inevitable. Life is full of hurdles and that’s what makes it adventurous. You are safe now.”  Elon kept her enclosed within his verdant boughs.

“Enough adventure I had till date. Now I want to live peacefully till I perish.” Georgia tweaked in pain. “I feel pathetic from the ache at my core.”  

Elon crunched his ligneous tillow. “As I keep telling you, everything will be fine one day. Such calamities will come and pass. You just need to be strong and patient.”  

Georgia stretched her blades like a kendo fighter, all set for combat. “And I keep telling you not to lecture me. 
Right, chêne?”  Georgia was unable to settle the turmoil within. “You sound preachy. Well, what more can I
expect from an old haggard!” 

“Fine… Fine! Call me any name you wish, but I mean good.” Elon didn’t mind her attitude. She’s just frustrated. Anyway, I love challenges. Each interaction will help me to identify her pain points and guide her accordingly.

“I don’t mean to be rude but that fatal incident made me bleak.” Georgia straightened herself. “That morning, we were happily swaying in the breeze when an unexpected heat jarred my core. The earth beneath shook violently. I tried to peek but the bullies stood tall, covering my view. We were accustomed to sudden quakes and chills, but that was lethal.”

Elon didn’t interrupt and allowed her to continue. I better stay quiet orelse she might just change her mind.

“Within moments, the entire area got clouded by thick smoke. It seemed as if night rushed in, much ahead of its time. Suddenly, a tremendous tremor shook our base. The woody bullies got uprooted and they dropped dead on each other’s back. That very moment, we felt a burning sensation and noticed a bright glow. Gradually, the ravenous blaze began to lick us, part by part. They smouldered us, but all we could do was suffer in silence. We are too fragile to withstand such strains. It felt as if a bunch of ruthless devils were on a killing spree.”  

Elon couldn’t shake his tillows. They were numb as if a thick layer of snow concealed his senses. I guess she is the victim of the blast that happened in the nuclear power plant in that area. I heard about it from the visitors. Never imagined the damage was so severe. 

“That moment, a wave of grief engulfed my mind, and ripped my core.” Georgia’s rays toned down to a shade lighter. “Fortunately, the breeze came to our rescue. It helped us to escape from the clutches of the pitiless tyrant. That was when we got scattered. A few days later, I realized that my pistils were badly damaged due to the combustion. For, I couldn’t carry out the reproductive functions. Even after several tries, I couldn’t produce a single pip. What can be more depressing than that?” 

Elon couldn’t breathe. He felt as if someone injected an overdose of sulfur dioxide right into his tissues.

“I sought help from many agents who assist with the process, but nothing worked. Well, how can it happen when the fault is in me!” Georgia’s poor health dampened her spirit. She was malnourished too. “My species is already vulnerable to extinction. Seems like I will not get the chance to leave a part of me on this earth.”

Elon shook his verdant boughs. He wanted to help her get through the tough times. “Will you trust me if I say I can help you through this? I mean, I can at least try. But for that, I need your complete cooperation. You cannot throw tantrums at will. Neither can you quit during the process.” 

“Have you lost your mind? Or did you not hear what I’ve been telling you all this while? Ah, I guess you dozed off ‘cause my story wasn’t interesting. I can understand. I don’t have the strength for anything, anymore.” Georgia’s head contracted. 

“I heard it all, and now you listen to me carefully.” Elon rustled his boughs like an angry father, all set to discipline his child. “I want you to fight till you perish. Look, all of us will die someday, But we should fight till the last moment and not give up so easily. You still have a chance to make it through. So use it well. I will guide you. All you need to do is follow my instructions diligently.”

“Do I have a choice, old chêne?” Georgia tried to fix her shrivelled rays. “Fine, let’s give it a try then. But are you sure your ideas will work? I mean you aren’t even an agent. How can you probably help? Anyway, I have nothing to lose so… Let’s get started then.”

From the very next day, Elon put Georgia on a strict regime. “Alright! So first you need to stop sulking. You need to believe in yourself. If something didn’t work out before, doesn’t mean that’s the end. Ok?”

“Yes, dear chêne! Your wish is my command. And I shall follow for the greater good.” Georgia pulled the last ounce of her zeal and went to work. 

It was mid of fall; the perfect time of the year when healing takes a rapid pace. Elon connected with a few specialized agents, and they agreed to help Georgia. Agent Bumble suggested ‘Buzz Pollination.’ She explained that it was an effective means and has worked miracles. Agent Monarch agreed to travel to different colonies to fetch the right match of pollen. Elon provided her with the filtered shade to keep her safe from the toxic elements of nature. Under his umbrage, she received the right nutrients essential for her growth. He lent his tillows to keep her stress free during cloudbursts. He set a fortified ground, for her to carry out the reproductive functions. Henceforth, they waited for the outcome. 

Am I seeing it right? There… I can see some white spots on her purple tips. Yes! I knew it would work. She’d be overjoyed to know it worked. With the right methods, twenty days were enough for her to recover and conceive. 

“Why are you staring at me like that, chêne?” Georgia stood erect, stretching her long rays. “What a bright morning it is! I can feel the good vibes in the air. Seems like I regained my strength.”

Elon tweaked his tillows in glee. “A good morning it is! In those lavender-violet strips, you look gorgeous than ever. I was actually staring at your protruding ovule. I guess it’s good news for us.”

“Really? You mean… Ah, finally! My rhizomes were multiplying but I didn’t hold my hopes high. Thanks to you and the expert agents. I wouldn’t have survived without your love and care. You gave me a new life.” Georgia’s rays fluttered in the wind. It was her way to express joy.

“Your efforts are no less than ours. I’m happy that you benefitted in due course.” Elon felt happy and proud. “This seems to be your native habitat. I think the favourable conditions of our area can help your tribe to flourish. You can use the vacant space in our vicinity. I know your genus is under threat. You’ll are anticipated to become an endangered species. But you can do something about it now.”

Georgia swayed in the breeze as if to convey her message. “I’m not going anywhere, chêne. I got blessed with a second chance in life. And I will use this opportunity to expand my genus on the face of this earth. Come what may, I promise not to lose hope.” 

“That’s good. Let your hormones guide you henceforth. My job is done. I wish to see you bloom and blossom, far and wide.”  Elon was happy to see his mentee radiating her true colours.

“You are a saviour. With tenderness and affection, you healed my state. You gave me a new life and taught me to see things in a better light. I’m a powerless flora. Yet, you stood by me and helped me to recover when no one cared. I was rude, yet you went ahead to orient me. Only someone like you can make a difference; bring a positive change to the world. I’ll be forever greatful. May the glory of your deeds reach far and wide.” Georgia lowered her stalk in gratitude; resembling a humble human in reverence. 

Elon heaved a sigh of relief. Nothing can be more satisfying than a job well done. I’m sure she’ll utilize her second chance for the good of her genus. Until the next mentee arrives, I’ll take some rest and enjoy the beauty of the vibrant colours of fall.

***********

Elon – is a Hebrew name that means ‘oak tree.’
Georgia – Georgia Aster is an endangered plant.
Cola – a cluster of buds that grow tightly together
Bract- small, leaflike structure often positioned beneath a flower. 
Bower- a shady place under the huge branches of trees
Ligneous tillow- woody branch
Umbrage- shade/ shadow
Chêne – oak tree

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